There was an exceptional strong-side, defensive end who was recruited out of Hartsville High School in South Carolina and signed with a big, Power 5 school. There were teams actually passing on this guy, his senior year, because his high school team wasn’t very good.
The conventional thinking in those days was how good can this kid be if the team around him goes 1-9 his senior year? That player’s name was Albert Haynesworth. He was pretty darn good as memory serves.
He went back to Hartsville after signing the most lucrative pro-contract a defensive lineman at the time had ever signed. He spoke at his uncle’s recreational center.
Haynesworth called coming back to the recreation department, where his career started, “a needed experience.” He advised the people in attendance that day, “It’s always good to remember where you came from and remember your roots. It will always keep you grounded, that you never fly too high. Remember where you came from.”
I thought of this in researching Landon Nokes. Nokes is a 6-3, 285-pound player at 6A, District 5, Louisville Eastern. The Eagles have to annually get past Louisville Trinity just to take its district. Not to mention Ballard also hanging around the trophy case.
The Eastern Eagles have struggled. They were winless in ’20. The prospects are rosier in ’21; but we aren’t sold the Eagles get by Ballard, much less Trinity, again this coming year.
That doesn’t mean Landon Nokes can’t play football. Those “in the know” around the commonwealth of Kentucky “know better.”
Landon, whose junior year highlights we thought to link under his picture, appears to us to be best suited for guard should he land at the FBS-level, or tackle should he matriculate to the FCS or lower. We aren’t sure of his level and that could change as we head into a pivotal camp/combine season for this young “big.”
There are only two real levels of college football prospects. Some high school players are so good a college, regardless of its level, will spend or find money for that player. There are players for whom they won’t.
College coaches look at high school players as either “a player for whom we will pay, or a player for whom we won’t.” Our best advice for Landon (or any other ’22) is to look at schools at which your interested in playing exactly the same way.
You’re either paying me to play here or I am paying you. Which is it going to be?
As for Nokes being a college prospect, he isn’t unlike every other prospect in America. Nokes has shinning positives, like a really good frame and his being a load. Nokes has things on which he needs some fine-tuning.
Nokes is a pretty polished player. Were he playing for us at KPGFootball, we would work on getting him limbered up and putting together more film demonstrating movement, pad-level (exhibiting core strength), and getting out in space and covering up smaller, quicker 2nd and 3rd level guys.
College scouts at the highest levels, and we know these guys, are going to want to see him be athletic and able to lead plays down field. They will be checking out his violence at impact.
When Landon shoots his hands, scouts are going to be looking for hand placement (thumbs downfield, elbows tight, blunt trauma administered to the breast bone or plate) with those same hands causing both easy and instant separation between defenders and him. He has to strike defenders hard enough to make them seem to avoid or become reticent about rushing the passer in that gap.
College OL, at the level Nokes has the frame to reach, have to show the ability to “stonewall” bull-rushes. Nokes will have to knock a hard-charging defensive lineman either to the ground, stand him straight up, or (at least) completely knock the defender off his rush/pursuit arch (re-route him). That’s what colleges want to see.
Nokes plays both ways at Eastern. Iron man football is something you don’t see much of at the 6A level.
We believe his future, next level, is at offensive guard. We could see him moving out to tackle, where he plays for Eastern, at some levels of competition.
He’s a next level player. Exactly where will depend largely on this coming offseason and the work he is willing to do.
This is HB Lyon reporting for Kentucky Prep Gridiron reminding you that WE’RE JUST CALLING IT LIKE WE SEE IT!
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